Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pitch Time

Now that my novel “A Sacrifice of Time” is complete, I have been focused on pitching it to various literary agents. Yesterday, a writers group within the Orange County Christian Writers Conference held an exciting pitching event. Members of the conference were invited to pitch their completed or work in progress to the group. 

Advertised as their way of “giving back” the group fielded the pitches and picked a small number to offer help to. What a wonderfully fun experience it was to be a part of.
Most of the authors that sponsored the event seemed to be focused on the Fantasy, Science fiction or Steampunk genres, which are quite popular these days. 

Although, my Cozy Mystery did not get chosen, it was great fun to witness the interaction between all the authors involved. It was wonderful to see a group of authors encouraging each other to produce the best work they can for our Lord’s glory. That’s what being a Christian writer is all about and why I enjoy being a part of the community.

I was especially pleased that my good Friend and fellow Aspiring Writer Forum member Rebekah Macias was chosen as a winner. She has been working hard on her novel “Homecoming” which I, for one, am anxious to hear more about. Congratulations Rebekah.

Also, the intense focus on pitches yesterday allowed me to understand how to formulate my pitch to a certain literary agent I have been wanting to propose to. So…all said, it was a glorious day indeed. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Query Letters & First Dates

After spending almost 7 years writing a novel and editing it more times than I can count, you would think a simple query letter would be a breeze. 
But, with so much riding on it, I find it difficult.
These letters need to be the best presentation of me and my work. 
They represent the first point of contact to the guards (literary agents) of the gates to traditional publication. 

In a very real sense, this is like a First Date.

What are they looking for? 
What will they think of me? 
As I express myself and open up, I am being judged by my every word. 
Are they going to be a right fit for me?
What if they don't respond at all?
Why is it so difficult?

I have no doubt that this experience is both good for me and growing me into a better writer and person. But I am reminded of just how rough it can be out there to be single ( I mean unpublished).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Laboring Through the Birth Pains

In Youngblood Hawke, author Herman Wouk, chooses to speak (quite cleverly through his protagonist) about his own experience of being an author:

"No man can know what it is like to be a woman taking her firstborn in her arms for the first time, but a writer who holds a freshly printed copy of his first book must have a fair idea of what the woman feels. It lies rectangular and spotless in his hands, with his name on the jacket. It is his pass to the company of the great. Fielding, Stendhal, Melville, Tolstoy wrote books. Now he has written one... The exultation does not last. It cannot. It is too piercing. It has gone before he has drawn twenty breaths. But in that twenty breaths he has smelled the sweetest of all savors, the savor of total fulfillment. After that, no matter what success he may achieve, he is just another writer, with a writer's trials and pleasures. That joy never comes again in all its first purity."

My editing continues slowly, as I am now working full-time too. Soon I may be holding a completed work and as Mr. Wouk suggests here regard it as "my baby" too.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Delicious Advice

Just finished reading (or should I say devouring) James Scott Bell's Revision and Self-Editing for Publication - Techniques for Transforming Your First draft into a Novel that Sells. What a wonderful tool this is to assist writers in the revision of their work in an organized and systematic manner. They say that writing is rewriting and I agree. I now feel confident (with this in hand) to begin cutting into my baby. For whatever it's worth, coming from a new writer like myself, I highly recommend this book to anyone contemplating the task of writing and editing a novel.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Stumbling towards Nineveh

The idea behind my novel A Sacrifice of Time was to attempt to create a modern-day Christian hero, a fully-fleshed-out character that readers could understand. Jake Justus, like the rest of us real people, would be flawed with his own personal struggles to meander through, but would be both approachable and believable. I found, right or wrong, that adjusting level of transparency in his internal dialogue was the key to achieving both goals.

Of course, my success in accomplishing this is left to the reader to judge. To the reader he would need to become as transparent as a ghost and therefore be approachable. To other characters in the story - those he encountered in his adventure, he would, like so many of us, remain guarded somewhat, enough to be believable. During this writing journey of mine, it has occurred to me that if these qualities are valuable traits for my protagonist, perhaps they are valuable for me as an author as well.

Transparency is a quality I have always respected in others and have, over the years, found liberating in my own life as well. With that said, I need to come clean regarding my own struggles to edit my novel over the last six months. I have mentioned in previous posts that the task of editing my own work feels like performing open heart surgery on one of my own children. It’s not fun and I find I am easily distracted from the chore.

Jonah perhaps felt a similar weight when told by God -
 “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come before Me.”
Perhaps he too struggled with distractions that were seen as preferred alternatives to the work at hand. We read that he rose up alright, but decided to flee to Tarshish instead of obeying God. God went on in the story to use great lengths to see to it that Jonah completed the work he was given, despite his willful disobedience.

Please understand, I do not mean to suggest that my editorial work rises to the importance of Jonah’s calling. But I think it is reasonable to assume that Jonah’s story is given to us to help us realize that disobedience to God’s plan for our lives is fool hardy. If I really believe that God has given me a story to share with the world, then I need to share it and that means I need to do the work. And in the spirit of transparency, I need to share the burden and joy of getting to the finish.

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of a book by James Scott Bell entitled: Revision and Self Editing for Publication: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft into a Novel that Sells. It is my hope that this highly recommended book will help me get across the finish line. The last thing I want, as I stumble towards Nineveh, is God to send a whale after me!

Do you too struggle with finishing? If so please share your comments below 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I Hate the Term - Homophobic

I hate the term Homophobic. I hate being told that if I do not accept and affirm those that live a homosexual lifestyle, I’m a bigot. I disapprove of a number of life style choices. The recent life choice made by young Adam Lanza comes to mind. Yes, he lived in a free country, where he was presented many opportunities, many choices and paths to follow. To quote the third installment to the Indiana Jones Trilogy “The Last Crusade”, he chose unwisely.

To a similar degree many other life style choices are unwise and carry dangerous associated consequences. Those who worship idols, real or imagined, soon discover their energies wasted. Those who cheat on their spouses find themselves alone and abandoned. The abusive often find themselves behind bars. Liars find themselves lost in a world where nothing is true and certain anymore.

Yet we do not hear terms like idol-phobic, cheater-phobic, abuse-phobic or liar-phobic.
Sin is sin and has been identified by our creator as our greatest struggle, the fulcrum point upon which the status of not only our eternity pivots, but our here and now as well. We can embrace the Free gift of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf and in so doing defeat sin through His strength – or we can continue to be ruled by the Sin of the World.

I am under no delusions – I sin everyday – but He that I call my Lord and Savior stands in the gap and covers my sin as if it is as pure white as the driven snow. His strength can accomplish what I cannot. And because of His great mercy I do what I can to remain His. To remain in His flock and in His keeping is my duty. To be and make Disciples of Christ is my greatest goal

That cannot be accomplished by sweeping what God says about the homosexual lifestyle under a rug. Loving the sinner while hating the sin is hard to accomplish, because people are defined by what they do – how they act. I pray that I may act in a loving manner to all people (sinners one and all) so that God’s love can be seen first and foremost. But I refuse to accept and affirm that which God calls an abomination.   

Monday, September 10, 2012

Journey Worth Taking

Its not the destination, it's the journey. That's what they say...

Recently in a small gathering with my Aspiring writer friends I proclaimed, "If writing a novel is synonymous with conceiving a child, then surely editing that same work is like performing open-heart surgery on him or her" This observation of mine received a good chuckle, but the truth it held haunts me today as I ponder the work ahead of me.

My beta readers (those that read my finished manuscript) have all been wonderfully helpful in pointing out many ways my novel can be improved. From character names and development, to plot structure and cadence, each of them have made me see that this work of fiction can be more than it currently is. Each of them seemed to be telling me that it has potential to be much more. To each of them I'll be eternally grateful for their time and encouragement as I continue down this road.

So, you ask...Why am I haunted by the process?

If I was a painter, that painted portraits or grand landscapes, I could stand back from the canvas and take it all in at once. Then I could lean in and make the smallest of corrections, bringing forth the important details that separate the Mona Lisa from my old Aunt Sally. I don't have an Aunt Sally, but my point is that I find it easy to get overwhelmed by my own work. It is difficult to hold that scalpel and know where to begin to cut into a body of 73,000+ words.

The recent crash of my home computer has not made this task easier either. But just the week before the crash, my entire computer had been back-up to an external hard drive I had purchased  - just in time. I must admit I too easily slip into the mindset of the bottle being half empty. In fact I often want to find the person who drank from my bottle and wring their neck.

I need to remember that this process is building not just a good novel, but a good writer I hope as well. And, if it was easy everyone would be doing it...right? So...with good friends to advise and encourage me in this process and God orchestrating it in His timing, now I too am saying...

It's not the destination, it's the journey. And I must press on!